About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides an update on how long patients wait for a first outpatient appointment at Allied Health Professional (AHP) led Musculoskeletal (MSK) services. The Scottish Government has determined that at least 90% of patients should wait no longer than four weeks to be seen from receipt of referral.

The statistics reported in this release continue to be severely constrained by the availability of quality assured data from several NHS Boards (NHS Borders, NHS Fife, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lothian, NHS Tayside, and NHS Western Isles) which means that PHS are unable to publish a comprehensive overview of data over time at a Scotland level.

Progress has been made to address the data quality issues affecting the number of patients waiting for Physiotherapy and Orthotics appointments in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and as a result, some previously published data have changed. PHS is working collaboratively with each NHS Board to resolve the remaining data quality issues and revised data will be published in future releases. Further detail is available in the data quality document.

Main points

During the quarter ending 30 September 2023, for the services covered by available data:

  • 62,895 patients were seen at a first outpatient appointment which is similar to the quarter ending 30 June 2023.
  • 47.8% of patients were seen within the target of four weeks of referral, similar to the previous quarter (47.3%). Of those patients who experienced longer waits, 4.9% waited 24 weeks or more compared to 5.3% in the previous quarter.
  • There were 92,450 referrals to AHP MSK services, slightly higher than the previous quarter (91,410 referrals).
Image caption Patients seen and proportion within 4 weeks, January to September 2023


The AHP MSK data collection covers Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Chiropody/Podiatry and Orthotics services. It also covered the NHS24 Musculoskeletal Advice and Triage Service (MATS) service from May 2017 until March 2020.

AHP MSK data are mainly sourced from the national waiting times warehouse with aggregate data submitted by NHS Boards as required. Data gaps and data drawn from a number of sources should be taken into consideration when interpreting the statistics.

The waiting time used for this target is an adjusted waiting time, with adjustments made up to 4 weeks based on the NHSScotland Waiting Times Guidance.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 19 March 2024.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact Diane Barrie at phs.ahpmsk@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 19 December 2023
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